The Palace of Versailles

June 5th, 2012

Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles was once the seat of power of the Kings of France. It is a very elaborate place, with a large collection of art and set on vast palace grounds of gardens, the grand canal, ponds, fountains and more. The gardens cover some 800 hectares of the 1,070 hectare site and took 40 years to complete (started in 1661)! The various buildings and palaces were built in a number of phases between 1664 and 1710 (prior to this time it was just a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII). During my trip to France I could not miss making a visit to Versailles.

Palace of Versailles 1668
Palace of Versailles in 1668

King Louis XIV (1638-1715) moved the royal court  from Paris to Versailles in 1682 and it remained as such until the French Revolution (1789-1799). The last King of France Louis XVI was executed in 1793. Luckily in 1794 the palace was granted protection, art works etc. were stored there and the palace eventually became a museum – this of course does not mean a large part of the royal collection was not sold off, taken etc. The most important parts of the collection were retained though.

King Louis XIV Versailles
King Louis XIV

The main royal residences at Versailles were the palace itself and the smaller Grand Trianon (built in 1687 to have a residence with less pomp than the main palace) and Petite Trianon (the latter is closely linked to Queen Marie-Antoinette and was truly her domain from 1774 onwards). The art works and palaces themselves are impressive and of course the main palace is the showpiece with its famous Hall of Mirrors and the King’s Grand Apartment that can not be missed.

Palace of Versailles France
Palace of Versailles
Chateau de Versailles France
Palace of Versailles
Royal Chapel Versailles
Royal Chapel
Royal Chapel Versailles France
Royal Chapel
Hallway Palace of Versailles
A grand hallway in the palace
The Hercules Salon - Kings Grand Apartment palace of Versailles
The Hercules Salon – Kings Grand Apartment – So many people!
The Venus Salon Kings Grand Apartment palace of Versailles
The Venus Salon – Kings Grand Apartment
The Mars Salon - Kings Grand Apartment Versailles
The Mars Salon – Kings Grand Apartment
Hall of mirrors Versailles
The Hall of Mirrors
hall of mirrors palace of versailles
Mirror mirror on the wall
Hall of mirrors
Imagine who has walked through the Hall of Mirrors?
The Kings Chamber Versailles
The Kings Chamber
The Queens Chamber Palace of Versailles
The Queens Chamber
Dauphin Bed Chamber Versailles
The Dauphin’s bed chamber (heir to the throne)
Dauphines Bed Chamber Palace of Versailles France
The Dauphine’s bed chamber (wife of the heir to the throne)

When Napoleon Bonaparte came to power the status of the museum was changed, artworks were relocated and the palace became home to the new Emperor and was designated an imperial palace from 1804 to 1830 (he chose to reside in the Grand Trianon). Essentially since then it has once again been a museum (apart from various wartime uses as a headquarters etc.) and is today a major tourist destination of France (it has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979).

Coronation of Napoleon 1804 Versailles
The coronation of Napoleon (1804) displayed in the Palace of Versailles
Coronation of Napoleon (1804) Palace of Versailles
Coronation of Napoleon up close

The Grand Trianon is no slouch either (it could also be called the “Marble Trianon” with its pink marble columns and walls)! It is also cool to see the study of Napoleon in the Grand Trianon.

Grand Trianon Palace of Versaille
The Grand Trianon
Grand Trianon Pink Marble Versailles
The Grand Trianon and all that pink marble
Room of Mirrors Grand Trianon
The Room of Mirrors – Grand Trianon
The Empress's bedroom Grand Trianon
The Empress’s bedroom – Grand Trianon
Family Room Grand Trianon Versailles
The Family Room – Grand Trianon
Napoleons Study Grand Trianon Versailles
Napoleon’s Study
Grand Trianon Hall Versailles
Grand Trianon hall
Grand Trianon
Grand Trianon

The Petite Trianon (the Queens Palace) is a more understated residence. It was more a place for Marie-Antoinette to escape from the daily happenings of the Royal Court.

Petite Trianon Versailles
Petite Trianon
Petite Trianon Palace of Versailles
Petite Trianon
Queens Bedchamber Petite Trianon
The Queens bedchamber – Petite Trianon
Living Room - Petite Trianon Palace of Versailles
Living Room – Petite Trianon

Throughout the day the various fountains in the palace gardens stop and start to provide a water spectacle (from the end of March to the end of October they are accompanied with music). The French royals must have been somewhat obsessed with fountains as they are everywhere! The gardens themselves are well maintained and give you some idea of the opulence that existed in the times of the Kings of France. As this is France you are of course not allowed to step on the well manicured lawns (my friend and many other attendees can attest to that as you will hear a shrill whistle from the guards)!

Palace of Versailles garden
Looking away from the palace towards the Grand Canal
Latone Fountain Palace of Versailles
Latone Fountain
Latone Fountain
Latone Fountain
Apollo Fountain Versailles France
Apollo Fountain
Colonnade Grove Palace of Versailles
Colonnade Grove
Palace of Versailles
Looking back towards the palace
Dragon Fountain Versailles
Dragon Fountain
Three Fountains Groves Palace of Versailles
Three Fountains Groves
Pyramid Fountain Palace of Versailles Garden
Pyramid fountain
Gardens Palace of Versailles
So green

The Palace of Versailles is a pretty expensive place to visit and you have to pay extra to visit the gardens and smaller palaces, but it is well worth it and can be easily done as a day trip from Paris (it is a long day though, with so much to see and large crowds to contend with). A tip to save some money is take the Metro to Pont de Sèvres (at the end of Metro line 9) then a local bus that 30 minutes later stops opposite the main palace gates. With so many people about, waiting to go to the toilet can be an onerous experience, so if you see one with a short queue do not miss the chance! Oh and grab a baguette and coffee in the kiosks amongst the gardens – much cheaper than the cafe’s within the palace!

Palace of Versailles France
Palace of Versailles

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Vika says:

    Grate Din! And tips is very usefull! But you didn’t mention about toilets queue!

    1. Deano says:

      Thanks Vika. Very true, I will add some info on that! What a nightmare that was!

  2. PragueByKaty says:

    It’s been long time I visited Versailles … I must go there again

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